Vodacom Stormers coach ‘quite happy’

PUBLISHED: February 4, 2009

While Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus is convinced flyhalf Willem de Waal, loose forward Schalk Burger and fullback Conrad Jantjes will be ready for the opening Vodacom Super 14 fixture against the Sharks at Newlands next week, lock Andries Bekker and flyhalf Peter Grant spent Wednesday morning on the side lines as part of the individual athletes management programme.

Bekker, who was one of the Stormers’ big stars last season and went on to impress for the Springboks, suffers from a back ailment. He didn’t take a full part in training on Wednesday as pure precaution to managing the 2.08m tall players’ game time.

Erasmus said he was never in any doubt about former Free State Cheetahs match-winner De Waal’s availability for selection. “Willem was always going to be ready next week. He will be available for the game next week.

“Bash (Peter Grant) will be ready. We don’t want to take a chance with Bash. We are just managing all his game time and training. The way he has played… he is quite a physical guy so we are happy with where he is. There is no niggle with him.

“Another guy who is injured is obviously Sireli (Naqelevuki) with his ribs. Luckily it is not a broken rib. It’s a cartilage. It is something that Tony Brown played with the last three games last year.

“If we really have to play him we can, but we would be really stupid, especially if we think there are still 13 or more games left. So we won’t take a chance.”

“He has always had the problem and we are trying to manage the problem. So we gave him half of the morning off.”

There was good news about star flanker Schalk Burger, who missed both of the Stormers warm-up games. “Schalk Burger is back in training. Luke (Watson) has got a small niggle with his back, but nothing serious. So we are quite happy.”

The coach dismissed stories that Burger and fullback Conrad Jantjes – who also sat out both friendly games – would miss the Sharks game. “Both of them (Schalk and Conrad) would be available to be picked. Obviously it is not ideal without game time.

“It would have been lovely to put them through some game time. But I can almost say they will definitely be picked.”